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België - Roemenië

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    België - Roemenië

    Na talloze vragen op dit forum, afzeggende vliegmaatjes en mislukte planningen is het er afgelopen zomer eigenlijk van gekomen. Digits is naar Roemenië gevlogen.

    Om dit forum wat levend te houden -en omdat ik eigenlijk niets anders te doen had op dit moment- al een stukje van het +- 15 bladzijden lange verslag. Het valt uiteraard in het niets bij alle boeing en airbus verhalen, maar misschien heeft iemand er ooit eens iets aan :)

    Het is in het Engels geschreven zodat onze lokale gidsen het ook kunnen lezen. Opmerkingen ivm schrijf-, taal- en stijlfouten zijn zeer welkom via PM. Het is een eerste versie, dus er zullen er ongetwijfeld genoeg instaan.


    Visiting Dracula by Plane
    It all started a four years ago. I was taking flying lessons and practicing my first navigation flights. The fascination with all those little trees, tiny cars and funny railroads made me dream away. In Belgium, there is no space anymore. Every square meter of space has been used. Would it be like this everywhere ? The mind starts to wander… Fly outside Belgium. Sounded crazy. What would be a nice destination. France ? Too close, and they speak French there. UK ? Everybody goes there. Something a little further. A place related to flying. Too bad Superman lived on Krypton. Flying. Like a bird, or a bat… Wait, a vampire. Yes, that’s it. I want to fly to Dracula’s castle, Transylvania, Romania. A plan was born.

    It would take four years to find a soulmate who was willing to fly to this far away, mythical and –let’s face it- not so appealing destination. It was no touristic highlight, and many pilots prefer to spend their time in more sunny places, closer to the Western Europe they know. But not us. No, the adventure and the unknown, those are the sexy elements. Those are the places worth visiting, worth flying to. Easier said than done, yes…
    The first bridge to cross, was determining a route to fly. No problems there in Belgium, Germany and Czech. But once you reach Slovakia, Hungary or Romania, airports are spread thin. Fuel ? Not always available. Schengen-zone you say ? Oh, no, Romania is not a part of that yet. So we need to enter via an international airport, which limits our options to 3 airports, for an area three times the size of Belgium. As soon as we found a rough route to fly, we checked the internet for peculiarities. And we found them.
    Apparently, flying VFR in Romania is not so easy for a foreign airplane. JAR rules etc sound good on paper, but in practice, you still need some administration before you can legally fly there. No problem of course, and truth be told as it would turn out, the people at the Romanian aviation authorities are very helpful and work very quick, even in the evening and during weekends.
    So, after a few weeks of charts ordering, planning, changing plans, finding out that airports that were open according to the internet are actually closed according to the map and the AIP, and turn out to be open after all, we finally got a route fixed. We were ready to go, and nothing could stop us. Except for the weather of course.

    The flight
    From two weeks before the planned departure date, we were anxiously checking the first very unreliable long term forecasts. The closer we got to the day we would leave, the worse the forecasts became. After considering all kinds of alternatives, we decided it would be best to leave a day earlier, in the evening. There our first problem surfaced: our airplane reservation only started a day later, and the airplane was booked. However, thanks to the flexibility and the kind-hearted nature of the pilot who reserved the airplane, we were able to leave a day early.

    To Germany!
    During these preparations, we made the first mistake on our trip. Apparently we needed to file EHAA as Flight Information Region we were about to cross instead of EHMC, the area we were actually going to fly through. Rules and regulations, you’ve got to love them. After a minor bruise to our ego’s and self-confidence, the helpful people at Brussels Briefing corrected this mistake, and all paperwork was accepted. We were ready.
    A few moments before the rain started to pour down, we could leave with a full tank of fuel, lots of luggage, and an airplane that came straight from maintenance.
    “OO-ABC, leaving the circuit to the north, request to leave your frequency”
    - EBGB Radio: “Roger, will you return this evening ?”
    “OO-ABC, negative, we will return next Wednesday”
    - EBGB Radio: “Roger, have a nice flight, byebye!”
    So the adventure began.

    After an uneventful flight through the complex airspace structures in Belgium, we arrived in relatively fair weather safely in Kassel-Calden (EDVK). Because the weather forecast for the night was not so good, the friendly people in the tower offered us a free spot in the hangar. Well, actually, the whole hangar was empty, but we don’t want to sound ungrateful, do we ?

    Since we were going to fly to an area with little Avgas available, we wanted to keep track of our fuel consumption to check if the endurance on paper would be possible to attain safely. So after every landing, our first job was to check the fuel, using our over-priced plastic tube with markings calibrated for a C172. We wrote down the numbers, and decided to calculate everything once we were in the hotel. It must have been during this measurement that I lost my sunglasses that I owned since my first flights. These loyal shades will be missed and I hope they will make some lucky finder very happy in the rest of their life. At that moment, we were enjoying the lovely scenery and the drive in the luxury van towards the tower, and I was not aware of the big loss I suffered.

    Once we arrived at the tower (after a whooping 20 seconds drive) , we heard the question “What’s your maximum take off mass ?” for the first time that trip. Of course we could have expected this, but due to the rush in which we left, and the massive amount of luggage we carried along, we did not write this number down on an easily accessible place. The guy decided it would be okay to write it down the next day. After advice from the local taxi driver, we decided to switch from hotel. Apparently, the previous pilots were not very happy about our first-choice-hotel. The taxi driver also informed us t hat the hotel he advised was located in an area that did have GSM coverage, which we considered as a good thing.

    The welcome in the new hotel was in stereotypical style. We had to wait until she had time to check the reservations. It would take a few minutes, and she explained it in a voice that made clear we should not ask again, and were not supposed to speak unless spoken to. A few minutes later, she confirmed there was a room available. The taxi driver was happy to leave, but could not drive us back the next day. After a German dinner (Schnitzels, because a lot of the menu was not available anymore), we returned to our room to prepare the flight for the next day. The first task was to calculate our fuel consumption. It turned out we burned 9 gallons per hour, which is 34 liters per hour. A number that was a lot higher than expected. According to the manual, this was a fuel consumption one could expect when flying full-throttle all the way, while we were actually flying at the normal long range cruise settings. If the consumption would stay this way, our endurance would be reduced from the theoretical 7 hours, to 5 hours, which would give us problems in Romania, where there is not a lot of fuel available. We decided not to panic after just one measurement, and decided to wait for the next measurement, and check if the average would improve. It would turn out it didn’t…

    To be continued...

    [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]



      Originally posted by digits View Post
      Het valt uiteraard in het niets bij alle boeing en airbus verhalen,
      Niet mee eens! Echt cool geschreven, het leest heerlijk weg ik zit hier serieus te balen dat ik moet wachten tot de volgende keer...

      Originally posted by Nosig View Post
      Ben ook wel erg benieuwd naar de foto's


        De laatste aankomst voor wij snel het luchtruim ingingen om het slecht weer voor te zijn:

        Beter weer in Duitsland:

        Base leg in Cassel:

        Sunset in Cassel:

        Gezellig hotelletje mét gsm ontvangst:



          Thanks to the free internet in the hotel (for which we needed to ask a password –twice, because the first one didn’t work- to the same Germany-friendly lady. We were expecting her to smash us with her computer anytime soon), we could check the weather forecasts. It didn’t look very good, but it should be flyable. This was a sentiment we would be feeling for the rest of the week, but at that time, we were still optimistic, and hey, the weather should improve during the week. It should have indeed.

          The next morning, we ate or breakfast –in which the bread was counted, 2 pieces a person, not more! –, I discovered I lost my sun glasses, and we waited for our taxi that was ordered the day before. It was the owner of the hotel himself who drove us to the airport. He told us the hotel was damaged from a fire, which explained why they were planning to renovate it, and there were not too much people present.

          Once we arrived back at the airport why took care of the administration. Turned out the guy from the day before “guessed” our weight: 1800 kg. Do we really look that fat ? After correcting the number –it was 1087 kg- we checked the weather again, decided it was good enough, and walked to the plane. No van this time, because the driver was busy with something else. After a short walk during which I must have looked like a hunting dog trying to find his prey (but the prey/sunglasses were never found), a pre flight check and the loading of the luggage, the plane was ready to fly. Well, almost. Because of the fuel problem, we decided to modify our original plan, and fuel wherever possible. Even if that means getting fuel at excessive high prices in Germany. The latest pilot reports (only a few weeks old) we checked on the internet predicted prices of 1.6 and 1.8 eur/liter in the east of Europe. So that would compensate for the 2.33 eur/l they charged in Kassel.
          Fully fueled, we taxied to the holding (due to noise abatement procedures, an intersection take off was not allowed) of runway 22, lined up a few minutes after a jet (the only other traffic that morning) , and proceeded directly to Vodochody.

          To Czech
          The weather was getting better with every airmile we flew. The scattered clouds, that looked like little sheep grazing between the mountains –and were possible responsible for some heavy fog on the ground- made room for a beautiful grass landscape, that reflected the morning sun back to our airplane. I really missed my sun glasses at that moment. Luckily my flying buddy thought about pretty much everything, and out of this giant bag of supplies, he magically made spare sunglasses appear. Thanks again!
          Blocking out the sun, we could proceed for our first stop in Czech: Vodochody. Accustomed to the Flemish way of pronouncing the place name, we were a bit surprised that you actually pronounce it as “Woedoechoody”. Sounded like a character from a Looney Tunes cartoon. After contacting Woedoechoody tower, we only had the runway in sight when we were almost overhead the threshold. A very steep approach path (you got to love 40° flaps) and a rather rough landing later, we were parked on the ground.

          Vodochody is an airport with the ambition to become a major airport for general aviation traffic heading towards Prague. Luckily for us, they are not a big airport yet, so the landing fees were pretty decent. Apparently, there were also two organizations responsible for the management of the aiport. On the one hand, there was a company that owned the place and controlled the tower. On the other hand, we have the local general aviation guy, located in some prefabricated containers on the airfield itself. Luckily, this guy also controlled the fuel truck, so our extremely thirsty bird could drink as much as required.

          After a friendly but –at first sight- strange welcome “Hello, welcome, we didn’t know you were coming ?” we were told we made our second mistake of the trip. Apparently Vodochody was a PPR (Prior Permission Required) airfield. Could be, they didn’t mention it on their website, and as they were not published in the Czech AIP, there was no way for us to know it was a PPR airfield. “Sorry” may seem to be the hardest word to some singers, on this moment it got us a “no problem, remember it for next time” and free drinks and cookies. Only cookies. Since we hadn’t eaten since the early morning –with the counted bread- , we could use something bigger and tastier, but unfortunately, this would be too much of a practical hassle (“No food on this area of the airport, and it would take long just to drive you out of the airport and back in. But we have cookies!”). Ah well, no point of starving here then. We filed our new flight plan, grabbed an extra cookie, and proceeded to our airplane, that was all ready to fly again.


          The beautiful weather the next morning:

          Glass cockpit:

          Oplossende Duitse wolken:

          Me flying:

          Hoogtemeter, verdorie, net geen FL100

          Hoge wolkjes:

          Final in Vodochody:

          Onze stalen vogel (links):

          General Aviation building met koekjes:


            Erg leuk verhaal! Is toch echt heel iets anders dan bij een grote airline IFR vliegen.


              Our next stop would be Brno (no letters are missing). One of the bigger cities of Czech. This trip was also quite uneventful. The weather forecast and the actual weather were both very good. This would be a relaxing and rather short trip. An hour and something later, we landed in Brno. The airport looked nice, a little confusing taxi and ground controller (“ah, there you are, sorry, turn right now”). Nice planes on the general aviation apron. The handling van was already waiting for us. Waiting, the magic word in Brno.

              After the landing, we wanted to check the weather, to see if it would be wise to proceed to the next airport today (it was only 15h00 local time), or if it would be better to stay in Brno. Checking the weather is easy, right? Not in Brno. You need some extra passes to leave the security area. Since the weather office was located outside the secured area, we needed those passes. Of course, no one ever checks them. Feeling really secured, I proceeded to the weather office, while my co-pilot of the day was taking care of fuelling and administration. He waited for the fueling guys, while I was waiting for the weather. Everything goes quite slow in Brno, even though they have a lot of employees, all running around in slightly old-fashioned, military style uniforms. The weather forecast looked good for this day and the next. A little put off with the probably high landing and parking fees in Budapest International (our next stop), we decided to go touristic, and spend the rest of the day in the center of Brno. One extra half hour wait later, the taxi arrived to drive us to our hotel.

              The hotel was located close to the city center. The ideal place to leave for some sightseeing. I combined this with a search to find a more classy looking replacement for my sunglasses (yes, their loss really bugged me the rest of the trip – I’ll never love again!). I did not find a reasonable priced alternative. That evening, we went to a restaurant in the vicinity of the hotel.

              Our first encounter with Czech restaurants was not that positive. The first one did not even try to speak English, and we were not very welcome in his crowded place. Luckily, his neighbor was a lot friendlier. But of course, we had to wait… We killed the time by trying to translate some menu’s that were painted on the window. Finally, the waiter showed up, and brought us an English menu, which was just perfect. That evening, I ate the best steak of my life. It was a steak “Sirloin” -apparently quite common in restaurants in that area, but I hadn’t heard the exact name in Belgium- with some spiced butter. Very juicy, just heavenly!

              We finished the evening by checking the weather once more (surprise: weather forecast was getting worse again) and filling in the airplane logbooks. If everything would go well, we would be sleeping in Romania the next day… Thinking about this, we dozed off in our air-conditioned room.

              The next morning we enjoyed a very well balanced breakfast, and returned to the airport as soon as possible. It would be a long flying day. In the briefing room, everything was slow in the usual way. After 10 minutes we could access the weather information. It looked good for the first half of our flights, but in the afternoon the chance on thunderstorms would increase. During taxi, we had a discussion with the people from the tower, because our call-sign did match with the one they received by fax. Turned out it wasn’t so easy to convince them that we were the OO-AWT, and not the OO-ANT, not even when we were the only OO-registered airplane in the whole airport, and the only C172. When we were ready for departure, the flight plan problem was fixed and we set course to the biggest airport we would visit on our trip: Budapest international!

              To be continued ...

              [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]


                On route to Brno

                Brno city

                Quiet airport



                  Hungary / Budapest
                  The flight to Budapest was relatively short. We needed to maneuver between some clouds that were floating between the hills surrounding the NW-area of Budapest, followed by a relaxing landing on the big airport. The “Follow Me” car guided us to a parking spot next to an impressive looking Italian airplane. It was painted in shiny yellow and red, and was part of some sort of rescue organization. And it was huge, especially in comparison with our little Cessna.

                  The handling agent picked us up, and drove us 20 meters to his office. This one was very well equipped, with free drinks for pilots (I assume they could spend a few euro’s when you pay 160 eur for landing fees…). Getting the bill, and filing the flight plan took a while. They didn’t let us do anything by ourselves, everything had to be asked. The fact that we forgot our Romanian VFR authorization number didn’t help either –oops-. After an hour the paperwork was finished. The pilots (there were six of them) of the Italian airplane were also waiting for their paperwork to clear.

                  This was our last stop before leaving the Schengen zone, so we needed a customs officer. We were expecting some more paperworking, involving copies of passports etc, but all the guy did was look at something he must have assumed was our ID-card. Yes, border patrols, I feel safer already!

                  The take-off in Budapest was a bit strange. We needed to switch ground frequencies while starting up and taxiing at least 8 times, only to be switched to another station. This frequency madness stopped once we reached the holding point of the active runway. Once we finally got clearance, our take-off roll started. Of course we were already at 500 ft before the first half of the runway. It was at that point the controller instructed us to make a sharp left turn over the airport and the other runway to make room for an arrival airplane. Makes sense, but a little unusual nonetheless. After that, we started our navigation to Arad.
                  Soon we realized that flying in Hungary is just boring. Nothing to see. Fields everywhere. Sometimes you see another airport in the middle of nowhere. Or you pass some military airspace. But still, nothing to see. Absolutely nothing.

                  A few hours of sightseeing later, we crossed the Romanian border.

                  Romania !

                  The friendly people of Arad airport asked us if we were ready to copy the weather information. A little confused (we were 5 NM out, and weather was CAVOK), we listened to a man who acted like a manual ATIS. Although we were flying VFR, they asked us what kind of approach we would like. Suppressing a reply like (“I don’t know, what kinds do you have ?”), we decided a visual one would be the best –and frankly only- choice. A few seconds after touchdown, the plane started to vibrate heavily. This was caused by the strange type of (or lack of ?) asphalt they used on the runway. Something I was not familiar with. Luckily my co-pilot knew about this. Hitting the brakes a bit harder, and putting the nose wheel in the air fixed the problem.

                  The airport in Arad looked old. Not much traffic either. The only evidence that this was not a ghost airfield, was one other C172 that was parked on the apron. We asked for fuel. Immediately the enthusiastic ground-crew started to start some machine which was supposed to produce fuel. It took a few tries before the machine made some funny noises and “it was ready”. On our shy question “are you sure everything is ok ?”, they replied with a curious smile, “yes, no worries, fuel ok!”. As soon as the fuel tanks were full with what appeared to be avgas, the ground crew started checking our oil. “Yes, ok. Need tire check ?”. “No, they’re fine” – and please stop touching our plane.

                  The weather forecast from that morning became worse. The thunderstorm PROB30 turned into a TEMPO. The weather was indeed very hot, but no CB’s were forming yet. After a phone call to the Magura airfield, we were informed the situation was the same over there. The weather was hot, there would definitely be some thunderstorms, but not yet anyway. No CB’s either. The owner also informed us that the last 15 meters of the runway could not be used because they were executing some repairs. With “We’ll see how far we can go” in our minds, we wanted to leave as soon as possible, to beat the thunderstorms to our destination. The people in the flight planning office of Romania were not so helpful though. It’s true, you normally need to file your flight plan an hour before your flight. But nobody ever cares if you do it 10 minutes before you departure for a VFR flight. Except in Romania. Our superior negotiating skills managed to turn the “you need to wait an hour sir” into “we’ll make it half an hour then”. The time was spent patching a flying club sticker onto the cabinet in the office, taking some pictures of ground crew that were admiring the newest addition to their sticker collection, and waiting a bit.

                  Ten minutes before our slot time, we started the preflight check. Suddenly, we heard the tower calling us. Not on the radio as you would expect on an airport. But really calling us through the window.

                  “Hey ! How high do you wanna go ?”
                  - “Huh ? Excuse me ? “ (Where does this voice come from ?)
                  “How high do you want to fly ?”
                  - “Depends on the weather on our route, it’s a VFR flight plan, we’ll climb to 3000 ft initially”
                  “Ah, ok, I’ll write down 1000, but you can go as high as you want !”
                  - “Okay then ?”
                  “Have a nice flight!”

                  Interesting experience. Makes you wonder why an airplane needs a radio anyway.

                  To be continued ...

                  [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]


                  On route to Budapest

                  Final in Budapest International

                  Follow me!

                  Parking with wingtip of Italian plane

                  Showing off

                  Overhead Budapest airport


                    Final in Arad (visual approach)

                    Fueling staff

                    Administrative fuel person

                    Our plane in Arad

                    Me in front of the Arad airport building

                    Supposedly the chief of the airport, proud with his Belgian airclub sticker (last one)

                    Arad control tower with a very original view on Radio Communication


                      He cool verhaal, lijkt me een gaaf avontuur, ik wacht met spanning op de rest!


                        Five minutes before our approved flight plan time, we started the engine and taxied to the holding point of the opposite runway we landed on. No vibration of the nose wheel this time. We climbed to 3000 ft and started our trip under the few clouds, between the hills. In the beginning, we could just fly over every hill, but as our trip progressed, we started to navigate the valleys, so we could keep our altitude and stay clear of the scattered clouds. After an hour flight, our radio transmissions were getting a little difficult to understand, due to interference of the terrain. Switching frequencies a few times only helped so much. Fifteen minutes later we finally managed to contact Sibiu Tower, just as we were about to enter their airspace. Upon first contact the controller told us the one thing we didn’t want to hear: “For your information, there are heavy showers overhead the airfield and gusty winds”. No thunderstorms yet though. One quick discussion later, we decided to proceed and were hoping for the weather to improve.

                        The closer we got to Sibiu airport –which was the controlled airport that was situated next to Magura airport, our actual destination-, the lower the clouds and the higher the terrain got. The controller seemed a bit anxious that we were in her airspace, and approaching from the west. This put us right into the extended centerline of the active runway. Still 10 NM out, and at 1000ft above ground level, that shouldn’t pose much of a problem we thought. One 360 –due to departing traffic- later, she gave us a heading directly south. Pretty soon, it turned out this was a problem at our current altitude. Flying at 3500 ft when you’re heading into 4000 ft mountains isn’t very healthy. “OO-ABC, request to climb due to terrain” was responded to with a “Negative, OO-ABC”. Strange. The mountains were getting really close now. With clouds at 4500 ft, terrain at 3500 ft and we somewhere at 4000 ft, the situation was getting worse every second and the heavy showers started to pour down now, which severly reduced our visibility. The mountains ahead of us were practically invisible now. Time to get in control of the situation and fly to our destination, which was behind the mountain ridge we were flying over. “OO-ABC, at 4000 ft, unable to climb higher due to clouds, heading directly towards Magura due to terrain. Descending to 3000 ft”. A little irritated and frightened, she replied “But then you’ll be on the same level as the IFR traffic !”. We found it hard to believe there would be IFR traffic at our current altitude south of the airport, especially since in the last half an hour we only heard one other traffic that had left to the north. Not having left a lot of options, our reply consisted of the one word that aviators all around the world just love to say. It gets you out any situation, while in the meantime indicating in a very polite yet decisive way that the discussion is over. “Roger”.

                        We flew through the heavy showers for 5 minutes, when they suddenly stopped. The weather was calm. Clouds were around 2000 ft above ground level. We did not see or hear any other IFR traffic. Nor would we the rest of our flight. Time to find our destination. A small grass strip in an area covered with fields. It reminded me of my first international navigation during my PPL training, but the situation was different now. This time, we had a GPS on board. Due to the lack of navigation aids, and the terrain without any distinct features, this came in handy. The GPS didn’t know our destination airport, so we had to enter it manually. When we didn’t see the airport when we were only 2 NM out, we started to wonder. Did we enter the correct coordinates? Where the coordinates we received actually correct ? The plan was to follow the GPS just a little longer and see where we’d end up, keeping in mind that the international expensive airport of Sibiu was always a viable option to divert to. Suddenly, the silent radio started to speak again. In Dutch.

                        “Dag Digits” //Translation: “Hello Digits”
                        - “Hello Magura, we zijn aan jullie aan het zoeken” //Translation: “Hello Magura, we’re looking for you
                        “Ge vliegt eigenlijk net boven ons” //Translation: “You’re actually flying right above us”
                        - “Ah, oke, bedankt” //Translation: “Ah, okay, thanks!”
                        […quick look around, high bank angles do come in handy sometimes…]
                        - “Ja, we zien jullie. Break break. Sibiu Tower, OO-ABC has Magura airfield in sight, request to leave your frequency”
                        *”OO-ABC cleared to leave the frequency, bye”

                        This helpful voice was one of the owners of the Magura airfield, who helped us with the paperwork and the car rental in Romania. He was a Belgian guy who moved to Romania 20 years ago, and was very happy we paid his airfield a visit.

                        The runway was 600 meter long and 18 meter wide, so we didn’t really worry about the landing. Until we joined the circuit for landing.

                        “OO-ABC, middle of righthand downwind 33”
                        - Magura dispatch: “Roger, we advise you to touch down between the threshold and the first white/red block, because there is a lot of water on the second half of the runway. Also, use the right half of the runway, the other half is in bad shape“
                        “OO-ABC, euhm, roger”
                        [few minutes later]
                        - Magura dispatch: “Just to confirm: use the right half of the runway and touch before the white and red block due to water“
                        “OO-ABC, we’ll land to the right and touchdown before the first red block”
                        - Magura dispatch: “Thanks“
                        [few minutes later]
                        “OO-ABC, final 33”
                        - Magura dispatch: “Cleared to land, wind is calm”

                        Being used to the Belgium quality of airfields, we thought they were exaggerating a bit about the state of the runway. Nevertheless, we managed to pull of the smoothest landing of the trip, in the small designated touchdown square. As soon as our wheels touched down, we saw the first lightning strike north of the airfield. Just in time! We pulled the stick back the whole time during taxi to avoid damage to the nose wheel due to the bumping terrain. When we passed the first red/white block, the whole airplane got showered by a huge puddle of muddy water. I guess they didn’t exaggerate about the state of the airfield. On the left side of the runway, we could admire a flock of sheep. For a moment, we thought we were in Africa. Sheep on the active runway. It’s a bit different then the occasional bird strike of course. One very slow taxi later, we reached the parking place. Just a field of grass actually, in front of the tower, which was a blue painted shed with a big yellow C on it. We loved it immediately.

                        As soon as we stopped the engine, it dawned upon me: we made it. Despite the bad weather forecast and the bumps along the road, we landed safely in Sibiu. We flew to Romania. Four years of trying and planning and starting all over finally paid off. Romania.

                        To be continued ...

                        [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]


                        Tiny hills

                        Maneuvring throught the valleys

                        Sibiu Magura Airport building
                        Last edited by digits; 31-12-2010, 13:34.


                          There was no hangar where we could put our airplane, so we were looking for a place to tie it securely down. The airport crew fixed this for us by knocking some metal rods in the ground, which allowed us to tie the plane down. The owner –probably aware of the stereotypical image the West-Europeans have about Romania- assured us there would be around the clock security. In the mean time, I used some tape to fill up some tiny holes in the border of the window since we already knew from previous trips that this airplane has some tiny leaks when flying through rain. After the plane was secure, the airport crew informed the car company that we arrived.

                          A few minutes later, our rental car arrived on the airfield. The driver informed us that it was the last car they had available. It was the “company car”. We just had to pay attention to the steering wheel, because sometimes the power steering works, and sometimes it doesn’t. We felt safe already! Oh yes, and the GPS we ordered to find our way to Dracula’s Castle wasn’t available either. And of course there is no map in the car. Fun! After some advice (“there’s only one road to Brasov, and then follow direction of Bran”) the estimated distance was +- 160 km and the locals expected it would be a 3 hour drive. Double fun!

                          Transylvanian Road Trip
                          During the weeks before our departure, we heard all kind of horror stories about Romania and the Romanian roads. We were about to find out if those were true. After 10 minutes of rally riding through the small hilly roads around the airport, we entered the “main road” which we needed to follow for 140 kilometers. Apparently, farmers can take up the whole road with their cattle, so maneuvering between cows is a skill you better master before you decide to drive on the Romanian roads. We also passed some other farmers driving an old-fashioned horse (mule?) and cart. Every now and then we had to avoid the occasional giant hole in the road. The car itself made some funny noises every now and then but as long as it was still moving, we were happy.

                          Since we were running a bit late, it would be a good idea to contact a possible hotel in advance and let them know we would be arriving around midnight. We did bring some addresses, but unfortunately, there were no phone numbers. Oops. Luckily, the people at home were still fully awake (one of the benefits of travelling with someone who just had a baby ), and managed to make some reservation in advance. One less thing to worry about.

                          After a few hours driving, we started to get hungry and were looking for some decent looking restaurant. We already disapproved four restaurants, so we got a little less picky, when suddenly, in the middle of nowhere this nice looking restaurant appeared. The combination of us not speaking any Romanian at all, and the waitress only knowing a few words English made it a little complex to fully understand the menu. We ended up with some chicken and a messy dish of rice, spiced with the occasional mosquito. Food and drinks for 2 people: 10 Euros in total. Welcome to Romania!

                          Our belly (at least partially) filled, our trip continued. We were approaching the big city (Brasov) were we had to take a right turn and continue to Bran. We tried recognizing some road on our VFR flying maps, but that didn’t work out very well. The GPS we brought should have contained maps of Romania, but apparently, it didn’t after all. We used our GPS as a compass, which allowed us to navigate using the flying maps. Driving roughly in the good direction –and being very nervous when the road made a curve-, we saw the first signs of “Bran”. A few kilometers later, those signs disappeared. A few lucky guesses and some friendly advice from some Romanians later, we finally saw our destination: Dracula’s Castle in Bran. Our hotel should have been “a 5 minute walk away from the castle”, and after a 10 minute drive we finally reached it.

                          We checked in to our luxury suite, and checked the weather forecasts. Some chance for thunderstorms. It was going to be a difficult decision we would have to make the next morning.

                          To be continued ...

                          [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]


                          Pictures of the weather a few moments we landed & the parking space. As you can see, the weather improved again after our landing. In the background, the mountains we flew over are vaguely visible.




                              Leuke trip, dat doet niet iedereen zomaar even naar Roemenië.

                              Zelf was ik een paar maanden terug op Vodochody. Leuk veld vond ik zelf. Ik ben er een weekje geweest en vond de handling uitstekend qua tanken, hangarage etc.

                              Wat ik me afvraag is of jullie ook een soort nabespreking / debriefing doen van jullie avontuur. Als ik het zo lees zijn er best een aantal zaken geweest (weather, atc, terrain waar je lager zit dan gewenst, slechte grasbaan door nat weer) die anders uitkwamen dan verwacht. Het leuke van zo'n uitgebreid verslag is overigens ook dat als je het over een paar jaar weer leest, je tegen sommige zaken waarschijnlijk heel anders aan kijkt dan nu.

                              Ik ben al benieuwd naar de volgende vlucht.. mooie verhalen!